Read an Excerpt
Has this ever happened to you? Tiptoeing into your bathroom, you hope the well-lit mirror will not take notice so early in the morning. As you slowly turn your head, trying to avoid a face off, something catches your eye. What? Jowls? A double chin? They were not there yesterday. A closer look into the eyes of the mirror reveals bubbly pouches of fat under your eyes and deeper creases on your forehead. It's coming. Your greatest fear--old age-is quickly making its approach.
Let's face it: While most people think of only two certainties in life--death and taxes-there is another certainty that is not frequently mentioned. In fact, you can defy it, deny it or denounce it, yet no matter how hard you try, you cannot avoid the inevitable truth--we are all getting older. While past generations more readily accepted the steady decline of physical and mental functioning many still associate with aging, studies reveal that most people today will continue to place a high value on being active and staying young.
We are nutrition and stress experts, and in all the work we do--leading seminars, counseling clients, and writing books--we regularly interact with our clients and audiences to get a pulse on what people are seeking in their lives. Recently, while giving nationwide seminars, we conducted an extensive survey on aging in twenty major cities. The sample contained 1,000 participants between the ages of 25 and 75. Our survey results unequivocally confirm that more than two-thirds of those who responded said they wanted to live to be 100, but only if they can stay healthy, be active and look great. What did 90 percent of these participants say was stopping them from staying young? The number one obstacle to successful aging identified by our sample was stress. It seems that we are so busy trying to do and be everything for everyone that we never have the time or take the time to nourish ourselves. Perhaps even more revealing was that 93 percent of participants said that daily stress ages them, specifically family, work, and financial stress.
We too have experienced the personal and deleterious consequences
of cumulative stress and how it makes you age:
When Cathy and I wrote our first book, I'd Kill for a Cookie, I told how the unyielding stress of watching three members of my family--my mother, father, and brother--die within a period of 3 years years had affected my eating and lifestyle habits. You see, I was one of those stress-eaters whose appetite virtually shuts down when horrible events happen. During that agonizing period in my life, I lost down to 104 pounds because I felt too sick inside to eat. At five six,you can imagine how I felt and looked--thin, gaunt, and old. I remember feeling numb and thinking even though I had all these years of education and training, I could not stop the terminal diseases that took the lives of my loved ones. Day after day, and month after month, my family members fought these diseases, then ultimately lost--all within a short time period. As I reflect on this stressful time, I definitely feel as if a part of me was lost with them, both emotionally and physically. I remember looking in the mirror, thinking "I look and feel so much older than I really am." The dark blackish, purple bags under my eyes were clear evidence of what lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep can do to a person. Signs of aging? I had it all: general fatigue, pasty skin, no sense of humor--stress-aging was happening right before my eyes.
Trust me, after much research and study, I know that it does not take
a family catastrophe to stress-age. Today's harried world takes care of that
quite nicely! Nonetheless, I also know that you hold the keys to looking and
feeling young by recognizing these symptoms, identifying key stressors in
your life, then making crucial changes to nourish yourself and regain control
of your time and life. Our EAT Plan will guide you through every step of the
way--and it really works!
Work, work, work! No, I am not a workaholic, I just love what I do. Yet why is there always so much more to do than time to do it? Since Susan and I wrote I'd Kill for a Cookie, all of my work projects have expanded exponentially. It seems like just overnight our small seminar company went from three employees to eight employees, and the number of seminars each year has doubled. This resulted in double travel, half the time at home, and more preparation, reading, research, and updating. Add to this increased work load an abundance of radio interviews, print interviews, book signings, and more.
I'll admit that, yes, this is all part of being an author, but would someone tell me when the laundry will get done? Who will clean the house? And how will I ever find time to maintain the lawn? Perhaps, more important, when will there ever be time for me--to rest, exercise, read something for pleasure, or enjoy my family and friends? Add to this constant tension the stress of the VCR breaking on the first day of a recent seminar and running to the store in between presentations to find a new one. While I'm away making this quick purchase, I call the office to find that two employees have resigned with only two weeks notice, during which time I will be 1,000 miles away doing seminars. On top of these stressful interruptions, I make time on my one day at home for my yearly mammogram only to have the technician tell me, "Dr.Christie, I will need another picture because something looks funny in your left breast." Don't think it stops there! While obsessing on the statement "something looks funny in your left breast," I numbly travel to my next seminar site, get a wretched case of food poisoning, then spend from 11:00 pm that night until 4:00 am throwing up. Keep reading! Then, up at 5:30 am to do a seminar on stress and eating . . . and that's just one week out of my life.
Stress? I know all about it. I did get a phone call later that week,
informing me that my mammogram was normal, but take it from me, I've been
there. I have seen stress-aging take its toll on my energy level, change the
way I look and feel, and decrease my usual optimism and enthusiasm. Yet in
the past few years the mirror has caught my eye, reminding me to slow down,
take care of myself, and stop stress-aging before it gets out of hand--and
the mirror does not lie! The good news is that stress-aging--that is aging we
can control--can be ended today . . . if you follow the easy steps in our
Stay Young with the EAT Plan
Using our EAT Plan--your Energy-Action Team--we promise to show you breakthrough tools that will let you stay young no matter what your age or how you feel. Based on the scientifically based nutrition tips given in our ongoing seminars, the EAT Plan is the first program ever written that uses food--something we all love anyway--to stay young and to stop stress-aging in its tracks. Imagine--eating to feel energetic, eating to sleep more soundly, eating to stay at a normal weight, eating to tame your hormones, eating to boost immunity, and even eating to look young again--our EAT Plan will help you do that and more.
The six steps in the EAT Plan--we call these Age De-Activators--build one upon the other to provide a cohesive, scientifically-based nutritional blueprint to stop stress-aging. With each Age De-Activator, we will guide you through what to eat and when to eat it, as well as how to support your eating with the herbs, supplements, exercise, and relaxation, using a myriad of charts, lists and "smart steps" to help you incorporate the research into real life...yours. These Age De-Activators have helped thousands of seminar participants put the brakes on stress-aging and now they will help you.
The Six-Step EAT Plan Includes:
- Age De-Activator #1: Eat Your Weedies: EAT to Stay Young and Disease-Free
- Age De-Activator #2: Be Your Own Bodyguard: EAT to Improve Mental Attitude & Performance
- Age De-Activator #3: Let Them Judge You By Your Cover: EAT to Look Young
- Age De-Activator #4: Get Your Buns Off the Back Burner: EAT to Stay Strong and Stand Tall
- Age De-Activator #5: Find Relief for a Hard Day's Night: EAT to Sleep Well and Feel Rested
- Age De-Activator #6: Gentlemen, Start Your Engines: EAT to Balance Hormones and Feel Young
The New Rules for Staying Young
Through ongoing interaction in our seminars, we know the topic of aging is on everyone's mind. We also know that millions of men and women are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired and want to regain control of their youthful looks, energy and effectiveness no matter what their age. In that regard, our six-step EAT Plan will be the new rules for staying young-no matter what your shape or condition. The prescriptive advice in the EAT Plan may at first seem radical or inconsistent with some of the accepted principles of good health. We are Certified Nutrition Specialists, yet we do not believe in dieting nor do we advocate the "no pain, no gain" theory of exercise and activity. We do believe in a specific nutrition-based real life plan that nourishes you and can decrease stress and subsequently deactivate aging. Our prescriptive advice will replace the all-or-nothing mentality advocated by many popular health books today. And, unlike many books based on mere speculation, the EAT Plan is based on the latest scientifically proven evidence.
By this time, you may be looking in a mirror, seeing how increasing years have changed your outer appearance. If you are wondering if your expanding waistline, sagging jowl, crows' feet, laugh lines, thinning hair, gray hair . . . or no hair is partly a result of your daily battle with stress, you can count on it! Even the slightest signs of aging are super-activated by daily stress that can rapidly wear down the body and weaken the immune system.
The fact is, the visible (crows' feet and expanding waistlines) and
not-so-visible (memory loss and chronic disease) signs of aging are much more
controllable than you might think, and you will find solutions for these and
other aging signs in this book.
The Secrets of Staying Young
However, while stress-eating with the subsequent weight gain or loss is an issue for many of us, stress-aging has become an epidemic concern for millions. Especially for those who are caring for aging parents, they are getting a reality check for what may be in store for them and most do not like what they see.
Unlike books that paint a bleak picture of aging, we show you through compelling evidence the specific changes over which you have control--and, yes, there are many. Think about the stressors that you are faced with daily--mortgage and utility payments, crowded freeways, traffic jams, rising interest rates, declining mutual funds, increased taxes, upgrading, downsizing, child care, self care, elder care, health care . . . and who cares! Is it any wonder that most of us feel as if we need stronger defense mechanisms just to make it through the day?
Yet what happens when you add to your list of daily stressors a host
of new physical changes--hair loss, weight gain, insomnia, menopause, high
blood pressure, low bone density, high cholesterol, low sex drive, lumps,
bumps, sags, bags, . . . and gravity? Could some of these changes and
decline in vitality be accentuated by unresolved or nagging stress? The
answer is yes! We know from personal and professional experience: you may
run, but you cannot hide. For all of us, stress will activate aging--if we
don't start to nourish ourselves and gain control. Sure, you can usually
coast to your mid-thirties with the luck of good genes. Yet there will come a
guaranteed time of awakening--usually during midlife--when genetics subside
and lifestyle factors take over. Surprisingly, research concludes that only
about 30 percent of the characteristics of aging are genetically based; the
remaining 70 percent are not.
I Don't Have to Look and Feel OLD?
This is what we have in store for you: In Part I of Smart Cookies Don't Get Stale, we introduce you to cutting edge information on the mind/body field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) and show how daily stress actually triggers the aging process to create unwanted changes. While the chemical changes brought on by stress can visibly influence how young you look and feel, stress is also a major factor in such serious health problems as memory loss, chronic headaches, depression, hypertension, obesity, allergies and asthma, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
How does stress activate aging, making you look and feel old before your time? For many of you, your day-to-day life may be very stressful, and this chronic stress can persist for weeks or even months. It is true that the immune system needs a certain amount of cortisol, which is the body's main stress-induced hormone. Yet when cortisol becomes elevated as with chronic stress and remains so for an extended period of time, it damages the cells that comprise your immune system.
Cortisol and the autonomic nervous system are both activated during stress. As a result of being bathed in the stress-related chemicals, the immune system is no longer capable of keeping infections, diseases, and free radicals at bay. The changes that result in the membranes of cells, eventually lead to symptoms, disease and accelerated aging.
Exposure to the invaders would have resulted in no problems, provided your immune system was strong. Yet as a result of chronic stress, your immune system simply will not work at full capacity. This breakdown in immune function literally activates internal and external changes associated with growing old.
With breakthrough research being done in the field of
psychoneuroimmunology (mind/body interplay), no one can deny that stress
negatively affects immune function whether we are young, old or in between.
In addition, stress produces such physical symptoms as muscle aches,
headaches, back pain, tension and digestive problems that make you feel old
on a daily basis. Yet we can have control. Starting today, you can stop this
unhealthy reaction called stress-aging, if you follow the six nutrition-based
de-activators given in the EAT Plan.
Can an Apple a Day Keep the Doctor Away?
Choosing the correct foods to stay young is a major concern for baby boomers. Food Marketing Institute (FMI) research shows that more than 70 percent of shoppers think their diet could be more healthful. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) reports that 60 percent of consumers are seeking guidelines on choosing healthful foods.
While studies show that we are more health conscious than ever, are we doing all we can to eat to stay young? In Part II of this book, you start our EAT Plan and learn what foods to eat and when to eat them. This plan is proven to help you stay young, increase vitality and keep youthful good looks.
We give you surprising new research on specific vitamins that lower your chances of Alzheimer's disease as well as help the outer you by diminishing facial wrinkles and increase collagen production. If you suffer from a racing mind and high anxiety and have difficulty sleeping, we show the specific foods that can calm you down and help you experience healing sleep. Healing Stage 4 sleep is necessary to produce human growth hormone that helps you to stay young and feel alert. Likewise, our menu plan to help balance hormones can ease you through menopause without annoying symptoms, keep your bones strong and even recharge your sexual vitality. Eating right, combined with exercise and other mind/body tools, will let you be on your way to deactivating stress-aging and feeling young again.
In our years of counseling clients and interacting in seminars, we
have learned that each person is different with a unique set of needs. What
works for one person may not help someone else. Therefore, we encourage
readers to use our flexible approach to derail stress-aging and stay youthful
by choosing from the myriad of nutritional, psychological, spiritual, and
physical options to find those that really work for them.
Time triggers change, and change often happens gradually. What may have worked for you yesterday in looking and feeling young might not have the same effect now. Let today be your rebirth as you take time to reassess, refresh, and set new goals for appearance, your health, and your overall productivity. It is time to love and nourish the person you are today--and the person you are to become.
Read on and let Smart Cookies Don't Get Stale with our extraordinary
EAT Plan be your optimal guide to deactivate stress-aging and enjoy staying
Excerpted from Smart Cookies Don't Get Stale by Catherine Christie and Susan Mitchell. Copyright 1999. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.